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Make Time for Wellness: For Students AND Teachers

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

“You cannot have student wellness without educator wellness.” - Kendra Bostick, Kikori Co-Founder.

Kikori team members Kendra Bostick and Niquelle Cotton played, reflected, connected and grew during the Center for Excellence in Instruction (CEI) Superintendent Wellness Retreat in Temecula, CA. Learn how you can bring these activities into your school to improve wellness for teachers AND students!

Teachers today are exhausted and burnt out.

What are today’s stats?

  • 66% of teachers want to leave their job

  • At any given point in time, 36.4% of teachers are likely to quit.

  • 41.3% of new teachers leave the profession within the first 5 years.

  • According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, About 500,000 (15%) of teachers in the U.S. leave the profession every year.

  • Teachers suffer from higher than average rates of drug and alcohol use.

  • Teacher burnout rates are 50% higher in Title I schools. These schools, generally speaking, serve lower-income families. Further, teacher burnout rates are also upwards of 70% higher for teachers in schools that serve a majority of students of color.

  • What is the unfortunate reality of those that think the crisis being experienced by teachers and schools doesn't affect you? The cost to school districts (ie: YOU the taxpayer) for teacher turnover is $2.2 billion every year!

Why does teacher wellness and retention matter?

  • The role of a teacher BEGINS at instruction. Students spend more time with their teachers than any other adult in their lives. Teachers serve as key role models and mentors. This means that when teachers practice wellness, balance and self-care so will students.

  • Losing experienced teachers has a direct and negative impact on students. Developmentally, children view themselves at the center of their world. This means that when a beloved teacher disappears, they are personally affected. This may result in declines academically and socially. Students may become less inclined to participate in class, leading to a drop in grades and test scores.

  • Poor teacher retention has been shown to concretely impact students in terms of scholastic performance, The Graide Network reports. One Stanford University study found that students of teachers who left after one year suffered in terms of achievement gains. Another study by the University Council for Educational Administration showed that New York elementary school students who were subject to higher teacher turnover scored lower in subject areas such as math.

THIS is why the Center for Excellence in Instruction (CEI) Wellness Retreat in Temecula was so important.

“You can’t pour from an empty cup”

What is wellness?

In a simple sense, wellness involves connecting with oneself, connecting with others and connecting with nature.

How can we build these connections into the lives of teachers and students?

1. Connect with oneself:

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

Connecting with oneself involves going inward, reflecting on one’s purpose and values.

What activities did Kikori lead that helped educators connect with themselves?

Conversation Pins by Jenn Stanchfield: This activity involves a fun and engaging way for attendees to get in touch with how they’re feeling / who they are at this time in their lives by choosing a pin that resonates with them. Thereafter we led a Connections Mingle to help participants get to know each other in a unique and fun way!

Take What You Need Wall with Stoke Quotes by Marli Williams

How can you lead this in your school?

Set up a Take What You Need wall in classrooms, the main hallway, or the cafeteria. Model you as the educator taking what YOU need by displaying your Stoke Quote on your desk.

Educator Quotes - inspired by Jenn Stanchfield’s Quotables - created with educators in mind

How can you lead this in your school?

Lay out the Educator quotes on a table during your first Professional Development meeting. Create an opportunity for educators to connect with another educator who has a similar quote. Then invite those two to find another pair of educators with a similar quote. Do this again for groups of four. Ask these groups of eight to share with the larger group to find themes - what about education is special? What are the values and words that you want to practice throughout this upcoming school year?

2. Connect with others

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to far, go together.” - African proverb

Connecting with others involves hearing others’ perspectives, being open-minded, and practicing empathy.

What activities did Kikori lead that helped educators connect with others? Connection Mingle

How can you lead this in your school?

Provide your educators or students with an opportunity to choose a pin or sticker that represents them.

  • Mingle #1: Eye See You Mingle:

"During the first Mingle, you’re going to mingle with your eyes down on the ground. Imagine you’re somewhere for the first time and you’re not quite ready yet but you’ve signed up, you’ve shown up and you have to start moving. Whenever you’re ready I invite you to lift your eyes and whoever you make eye contact with is your Eye See You partner. When you find your Eye See You partner, introduce yourself and share why you chose the pin / sticker that you did today. "

  • Mingle #2: Sole Mate Mingle:

"Can anyone guess how to find your sole mate? Your sole mate is someone with the same or different shoes to you! When you find your sole mate, I invite you to introduce yourself and share what could happen during this school year that would feed your soul - why are you here and what would feed your soul while you’re here?"

QUICK CONNECTION: Make eye contact w your Eye See You Buddy

  • Mingle #3: Thumb Buddy Mingle:

"For this next mingle, I’m going to invite you to find your Thumb Buddy. Now our thumbs for many of us is used as a tool - it helps us achieve tasks that we couldn’t do otherwise. In order to find your Thumb Buddy, seek out someone with the same or different thumbs as you have. Share with your Thumb Buddy something you will bring to school / class this year. Maybe it’s laughter or math skills or being a lunch buddy - what are you bringing to school?"

QUICK CONNECTION: Give a quick sole mate kick-tap to your Sole Mate Buddy

  • Mingle #4: Heart Strings Mingle:

"For this last mingle, I’m going to invite you to find someone who gives off good heart energy. Once you find this person, I invite you to introduce yourself and share ANYTHING you want that is on your heart. This is a free flow - whatever comes up for you, I welcome you to share."

3. Connect with Nature

“In every walk in nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” - John Muir

Connecting with nature involves physically being in nature, practicing mindfulness and appreciation for the outdoors, reflecting on how the sunshine and wind and colors make us feel.

What activities did Kikori lead that helped educators connect with nature?

Walk with Purpose Activity: This walk involves taking in nature and reflecting on ones’ self-purpose. It is an active, fast walk and also involves a series of arm, leg, ab and glute movements over 1-3 miles.

How can you lead this in your school?

Invite each educator to think of one activity that involves the outdoors during September! Check out our Kikori Weaves experiential SEL into academics blog for ideas for Math, Reading, Writing and More!

Are you interested in the CEI Wellness Retreat Playlist? Email us at, and we will send it your way!

Who else was bringing wellness to Superintendents during the Wellness Retreat?

Academic Wellness for All:

Open Up Resources is a non-profit increasing equity in education by making excellent, top-rated K-12 Math and ELA curricula freely available to districts. Extra shout out to Emily Beeson and Traci Davis for making this open source resource available.

Nearpod provides teachers with real-time insights into student understanding through interactive lessons, interactive videos, gamification, and activities — all in a single platform.

Active & SEL Wellness:

Elevo Learning uses fun, physically active games and sports as a vehicle to engage students in social & emotional learning.

Flext uses Text-Tutoring to provide students with academic & social emotional learning tutoring support, along with data for schools & families.

Nutrition and Culinary Wellness:

Chef Mitchell (seen on the Food Network Star Season 8 and Food Network's Beat Bobby Flay) is producing Kikori's first eCulinary SEL program that incorporates team building, nutrition, history and more!

Chef Ellyse Briand is the Adult Nutrition Educator at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center, an interactive, indoor-outdoor classroom that provides science-based environmental education and nutrition lessons, hands-on gardening and cooking classes, and job skills and leadership development programs for youth, adults, and families.

Financial Wellness:

CalPro Network provides teachers with provide you with the guidance they deserve to help them make good financial decisions now and for the future.

Whole School Wellness:

TechinEducation provides instructional technology tools that deliver compelling value and results.

Apptegy helps you build your school's brand with an ADA compliant school marketing strategy.

Abre's Student360™ data platform gives teachers, families, administrators, and partners access to the info they need to support the whole child.

How are you planning to build wellness into your school year for Educators and Students? Share with us in the comments below!


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